Happier is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently featured in the New & Noteworthy section of the store front page.
Happier is a mobile-social network that aims to get people thinking more positively. The company claims that the idea for their app was “inspired by scientific research that shows focusing on the positive and sharing good things with people you care about makes you happier and healthier.”
The app itself encourages its users to share at least three “happy moments” per day, and can even be set up to send the user push notifications to remind them to focus on the positive in the morning, afternoon and evening. Sharing a happy moment is a simple matter of writing up to 160 characters describing the experience, and optionally attaching an image from the device’s photo library or camera. When this has been done, the happy moment is shared to the Happier network, and other users may then “smile at” (“like”) the post or leave a comment on it. Users are not able to smile at their own posts, but may leave comments on it. Users may also categorize their posts into “collections,” a default set of which is provided when they start and which may be added to — this theoretically allows them to see the elements of their life that make them the most happy.
The app requires sign-in via Facebook to even start using, a restriction which, as ever, users in the U.K. have responded to considerably more negatively to than those in the U.S. — the U.K. App Store lists the app with a two-and-a-half star rating at the time of writing, while the U.S. store lists it with a full five stars. The Facebook connectivity may be used to invite new friends, but oddly there is no apparent facility to share happy moments on the social network — it is purely used to set up the user’s initial profile and invite friends. This seems like something of a missed opportunity to extend the app’s reach.
Friends may also be invited via email or SMS/iMessage, but there is also no apparent means of simply searching for users, nor are there the curated “featured” and “popular” feeds that are normally seen in other mobile-social apps. This leaves the app feeling like a rather barren, lonely experience for those who do not already have friends using it, which is somewhat counter to its intentions. The simple addition of a “suggested users” function or a “featured” feed would help to mitigate this by showing users that there are other people out there sharing happy moments that they might want to follow; for now, however, the heavy reliance on users recruiting their friends to populate their feed may hurt the app in the long run.
Happier’s intentions are admirable — most of us could probably stand to focus on the positive things in life a little more — but the app itself leaves a considerable amount to be desired, for the reasons listed above. It’s not really fully-featured enough to act as a helpful mood-tracking tool for those who are struggling with depression or similar mental health issues, and its social features aren’t implemented well enough to make it a good mobile-social network. There’s some potential here, for sure, but ultimately at the present time it doesn’t really do anything that can’t already be achieved with more well-established social services that users’ friends are more likely to be already using. As such, it’s questionable as to whether or not this app will be able to build up and maintain a particularly active community in the long run — and with no means of monetization implemented, that also raises questions about the long-term future of both the app and the company that created it.
You can follow Happier’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.